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Chez Pazienza Headshot

Schoolyard Bullies

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As far as I am concerned, this is not civics education -- it gives the appearance of creating a cult of personality. This is something you'd expect to see in North Korea or in Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

-- Oklahoma Republican State Senator Steve Russell, on President Obama's plan to address America's schoolchildren next Tuesday

You know something? I've seen a lot of mind-bending insanity from the right since Barack Obama's election last November, but this seriously tops everything we've been inundated with so far. I rarely use this word, because it feels so cliché and therefore so impotent, but it's outrageous. Just outrageous. I obviously had a real problem with George W. Bush, but even at my most disgusted with his idiocy and his administration's corruption, I never would've marginalized him to the point where I denied him the right to talk to our kids. That's something you don't play politics with; it's above partisanism. And yet Obama's critics don't feel that way. They will turn a simple presidential address to America's kids -- somewhat of a tradition in this country -- into a reactionary dogfight.

He's the president of the United States, which means that if he wants to talk to children, he gets to. That's the way it works. He won the election and therefore, as president, he gets a few perks -- one of them is being able to say, "I want to speak to the youth of America," and not have anyone raise holy hell.

That's really what it's all about, though -- the fact that Barack Obama's political enemies don't actually accept him as president. They consider him an illegitimate -- his presidency some kind of sham, regardless of the overwhelming majority he won back in November of 2008. They've demonized and marginalized him -- called him a foreigner, a socialist, a threat to the American way of life, a cult leader intent on indoctrinating and enslaving our children through sheer force of personality. They bring guns to places he's speaking; they have so little respect for the man or the fact that he won the office he now holds that they intimate that they're willing to cause physical harm to him and his supporters. Seriously, how many times in your life have you heard anyone refer to a sitting president of the United States as a communist and be taken seriously by an entire, supposedly reputable, network news department and its viewers? Even John Kennedy didn't face the broadly validated, well-orchestrated onslaught of accusatory derision Obama's seeing.

I never wanted to play this card, but the longer this outright hostility continues -- the further it's allowed to be amplified -- the more I think that the only word Barack Obama's mainstream attackers are steering clear from at this point is "nigger." They're thinking it -- just not saying it.

But even that isn't their main issue with him.

It all goes back to something I expounded on quite a bit before the election: There are many in this country who don't trust Barack Obama simply because he's different from them. He's intelligent, analytical, articulate, worldly; he isn't a mentally-challenged Barco-lounging lummox who robotically chants bumper-sticker slogans to rally the faithful to his cause while giving everyone else the finger. What's more, he's a guy who -- despite the laughable elitist tag his critics have tried to pin on him -- has fought the odds and busted his ass since the very beginning to make something of himself. He's a black man who became president of the United States. In other words, he's the best person to talk to America's children -- someone they'll believe when he says, "You can become anything you want to in this country."

And it's not that he should be able to do this without having those who refuse to accept him turning it into a topic for debate on cable news. It isn't up for debate at all. The man's president. He gets to do it. Deal with it.

And if you're one of those people threatening to keep his or her kid home from school next Tuesday, ask yourself this: Who's really the one forcing a political agenda on their children?

Oh, and aren't those public schools "socialist" institutions anyway?